Bhubaneswar: Odisha government is going to promote Forest Product Clusters in the State to add value to the minor forest produces (MFP) and provide livelihood support to the forest dwellers.

The Odisha chief secretary, Asit Tripathy, who chaired the high power committee meeting of forestry sector development society held on digital mode through OSWAN platform on Thursday, directed to identify Fores Product Clusters’ and scale up those through inter-departmental convergence in terms of resources, technical support, skill building and marketing. He advised to maximize convergence of resources from OSFDP, MGNREGS, OLM, OTELP plus and other similar activities.

The additional chief secretary forest and environment Dr Mona Sharma
suggested to take up farm, non-farm and non-timber forest produce (NTFP) based livelihood interventions through community level institutions. It was decided to map local availability of different products and establish the ‘ Forest Product Clusters’ like Sal seed involving 435 VSSs, Tamarind involving 242 VSSs Harida involving 260 VSSs, Bahada involving 258 VSSs, Char involving 333 VSSs, Cashew involving 121 VSSs, Mango involving 223 VSSs, Mahua involving 395 VSSs, and, Neem seed cluster involving 187 VSSs. Around 88000 households would have additional income from these clusters.

Development commissioner Suresh Chandra Mohapatra directed to establish Livelihood Resource Centre to provide technical input, required skill, training and, linking to financial institutions. He also directed to provide continuous handholding support for product development, branding and marketing linkages.
Director OFSDP Sudarshan Panda appraised that 778 VSSs covering around 50,000 households in the project villages of 12 forest divisions have been linked up with respective departments for carrying forward the livelihood activities in the mushroom cultivation, honey collection and processing, kitchen garden, poultry, pisci-culture, dairy, badi making, pickle making; and, marketing of NTFP items like harida, bahada, amla, tamarind, hill broom, Jhuna etc. Panda further appraised, “ seven Sal leaf making clusters have been set up at the forest divisions namely Baripada, Rairangpur, Karanjia, Keonjhar, Baliguda and Phulbani involving 4645 households organized under 460 SHGs”.
Apart from this, 497 community development projects estimated around Rs 11.38 crore have also been approved through convergence with MGNREGS to be implemented through VSSs. Around Rs.1000.30 core would be invested in development of the forest eco system and sustainable livelihood activities through joint forest management approach under OFSDP, phaseII.

“The government is on the resolute move for boosting economic activities in hill and forest tracks even against the adversity of the ongoing pandemic”, he said and added, “Sustainable livelihood and income generating activities have been taken up in twelve territorial forest divisions on joint forest management (JFM) mode with direct participation of Vana Surakshya Samities ( VSSs) and Self Help Groups ( SHGs) under Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP) Phase-II,” the meeting was told.

Principal secretary finance Ashok Kumar Meena, principal secretary ST and SC development Ranjana Chopra, principal secretary panchayati raj and drinking water Deo Ranjan kumar Singh, secretary skill development and technical education Sanjay Singh and PCCF for Sandeep Tripathy participated in the deliberations.